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We are Sabbath keepers. We believe in it, and we really try to keep the Sabbath holy. God commands it, after all, so we figure we should do it. It’s a priority for us, but we are imperfect people and we’ve learned over the past few years of Sabbath keeping, some of the very best ways to ruin a perfectly good Sabbath.
- Watching TV/Screen Time. Watching too much television or movies (even Christian ones) or spending time on our phones is one of the best ways to kill a Sabbath, and by kill it, I mean murder it. The Sabbath is meant to be spent with the Lord and with the family. It’s for resting, and while television watching is deemed by Americans as a reasonable way to relax after a long work day, it pretty much ruins Sabbath. Watching TV is isolating, it is not connecting. While it can be a good way to tune out, we aren’t asked to tune out in order to keep the Sabbath holy. That said, we do make exceptions for a really good flick we all have been wanting to see, sometimes during the kids’ nap.
- Working. Ok, so this one is pretty obvious, I hope. The Bible is pretty clear about advancing one’s own wealth on the Sabbath, so work is a solid no-no. Now, there are times when an emergency arises and we must help people out, and we do. But as a general rule, we don’t. Examples of acceptable work include: a tree falling someone’s house, feeding the kids, changing diapers. Those things must be done, and caring for others is in the spirit of love that the Sabbath should bring.
- Littering. While littering in public is always unacceptable, littering at home is as well. Just because it is the Sabbath is no excuse to drop your jacket in the middle of the floor, to refuse to put your shoes away or pick up the toys you were playing with. Mostly this is a lesson for the kids, but we adults can sometimes be guilty as well. Clutter and a messy house will also ruin the joy of the Sabbath, so taking responsibility for our own stuff is essential to not requiring work of someone else.
- Being Unprepared. Failing to prepare for the Sabbath is one of the fastest ways to kill it. When the people of Israel were in the wilderness and the manna was falling, they were commanded to prepare by collecting food the day before so that they could rest on the Sabbath itself. I confess I don’t always have every meal pre-prepared for a Sabbath, but I try to have some sort of plan. I try to have a dinner in the crockpot, a cold or pre-cooked breakfast, and a very simple lunch. I also try to always have the house cleaned and a relaxed atmosphere by the time the Sabbath begins so that we don’t feel like we are playing catch up picking up kids toys or washing dishes. The goal is to unwind, be present for each other and spend time in the presence of God.
- Fighting. The fastest way to kill the Sabbath is to argue, bicker or fight. The spirit of the Sabbath being joy, peace, and rest is entirely demolished within a fight. Recovering from the fight itself even requires a level of mental work. I’ve heard it said that when it is said that kindling a fire is sin on the Sabbath, that fighting is like kindling a fire, and considered one of the worst forms of breaking the Sabbath. I encourage you, when you catch a fight brewing or you remember in the midst of it, stop, hold your tongue and pray. Speak life and love and return to the spirit of the Sabbath as immediately as possible.
How do you spend Sabbath days? What are some of your favorite relaxing family ideas?